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Police chief warns toy gun incident could have been "tragic"

PLAINFIELD, Ill. - A police officer in suburban Chicago could have easily shot a boy who was playing with a toy gun during a recent encounter -- and the shooting would have been justified -- the police chief in Plainfield, Illinois tells CBS Radio affiliate WBBM.

Chief John Konopek says police responded to a report of three kids with guns last Friday. When officers approached the trio, one of the youths ran off into a wooded area, he says.

One officer saw that teen crouched down in a "tactical" manner with what he thought was a rifle pointed at the other police officers.

According to a narrative of the incident posted on the Plainfield Police Department's website, one officer "took a calculated risk and gave the offender a verbal warning to drop his weapon. If he had been wrong this situation could have proven fatal to the offender or officers."

The boys, it was soon determined, had been holding toy Airsoft guns. Each had the required orange tip indicating they are toys, but the chief says it is hard to tell from a distance.

"Our officers were pretty upset after the incident," Konopek says. "It was a very close call. It could have turned tragic very quickly."

Konopek says he wants parents to be aware of where their kids are using the replica guns.

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